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The University of Southampton
EngineeringPostgraduate study

SES-76-182 PhD Studentship: Droplet based microfluidic platforms for femtolitre to nanolitre chemistry and biology

A PhD studentship is available in the Electro-Mechanical Engineering research group, Engineering Sciences, which fully covers University tuition fees (at EU/UK level**) and provides a tax-free bursary of £13,600 per year, rising annually (each October) in line with the UK Government (EPSRC) recommended rate, for a 3-year duration. **EU/UK fees £3732 p.a., Overseas fee 16,120 p.a. (subject to annual increase).

This position is available to EU/UK applicants only, unless additional funding/scholarships are obtained by the student to cover the overseas fees difference (£12,388 for 2011/12).

Project description:

Microdroplets are typically water droplets in oil or oil droplets in water, possessing a size of less than one micrometer (µm) to over 500 µms in diameter, and can be carried through microchannels in a microfluidic device to perform experimental analyses. Recently, droplet-based microfluidics has emerged as a new and exciting technological tool for applications within the chemical, biological and pharmaceutical sciences. However, there still remain significant challenges understanding fundamental interfacial science and engineering novel microfluidic platforms that can generate, handle and analyze these droplets.

The exciting research project will be application driven, will tackle crucial issues in developing droplet platforms. The main objectives will include: (a) designing and fabricating microfluidic devices to study liquid mixing, molecular separation and concentration, cell encapsulation and fusion, etc, (b) integrating the microfluidic devices with the other mechanical, electrical and optical control and detection systems, to achieve highly integrated chip systems. (c) collaborating with biologists to study the real time responses of cells or tissues for drug screening and toxicology applications.

Engineering Sciences at the University of Southampton has an international reputation for research excellence. In the 2008 UK Research Assessment Exercise, in collaboration with the Institute of Sound & Vibration Research we were ranked second in the total number of Unit 28 academics whose research was deemed world leading or internationally excellent.

Engineering Sciences has a diverse community which is committed to creating an inclusive working and learning environment in which all individuals are equally treated and valued, and can achieve their potential. We consider all studentship applications in relation to academic criteria and regardless of the individual's race, nationality, gender, or belief.

Entry requirements:
Candidates will have a first class or upper second class degree (or its equivalent) in relevant disciplines, e.g. mechanical, electrical engineering, bioengineering, chemistry and biochemistry.

The successful candidate will work with a group of highly motivated, first class research students from Univ. Southampton, ETH Zurich, Imperial College and Cambridge. The successful candidate will obtain world leading training in a range of disciplines during the PhD including, advanced micro and nano fabrication, microfluidics, microsensor development and high resolution microscopy.

Commencing 1 October 2011

Closing date for applications: A rolling deadline applies

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Xize Niu, Email: or Prof Martyn Hill, Electromechanical Engineering research group, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 3075.

How to apply: An on-line application form (or hard copy version) with guidance notes can be accessed at

Please read the notes carefully before applying. Applications will only be considered on receipt of a completed application form.

You can attach your supporting documents to the on-line application. If you are unable to do this, please send by email to and also send a copy to the supervisor named above (or send by fax or post if you are unable to send them electronically):

Julia Zimbler, Postgraduate Admissions, Graduate School Office, Engineering Sciences, Room 4009, Lanchester Building, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, UK.

Fax: +44 (0) 2380 59 5167.

Please ensure you include a personal statement in your application, stating why you particularly want to do a PhD, why you think you are suited to a research degree and what particularly attracts you to this project.

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